Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal

Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal

by Jayne Fresina

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402266034
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 06/04/2013
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 871,917
Product dimensions: 4.38(w) x 6.72(h) x 1.01(d)

About the Author

Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England. Entertained by her father's colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters, she's always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. She lives in upstate New York. Visit

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

London, January 1835

"I have only one use for an overly proud cock." The old woman's black lace veil billowed with a gusty sigh. "Stewed in a pot with burgundy wine and butter. So you may put aside your pride and male vanity, Hartley. I've sent more strutting cockerels to the ax than I care to count."

In almost twenty-five years of life, Rafe Hartley had known several stubborn wenches and even met one or two who thought themselves fearless. Until they encountered him. But this one was a different matter. She could not be moved by either his charm or his temper-both of which he'd been told were considerable, reckless, and mostly the cause of his troubles.

This woman remained unaffected, impenetrable. His most fearsome scowl caused not the merest tremble of that lace veil; his deepest growl apparently fell upon closed ears. Inside that small frame, he concluded, she had nerves of steel.

"Lady Blunt, I could not take a farthing," he exclaimed. "I will not. I earn my own coin and do not look for charity."

Once again a drift of exhaled determination fluttered against the black lace veil. "This is not charity, young man." She spoke with a soft, steady voice. "This is repayment for the service you performed for my little dog, and for the company with which you have cheered a decrepit, old lady's spirits." A velvet purse dangled from a loop of ribbon around her finger. "Take it and put it to good use."

It saddened him that she expected to pay for his time. Her first few visits to his rooms had been mildly inconvenient and suffered by him out of respect for her advanced years, but he'd begun to anticipate them with a certain degree of pleasure. He never met her anywhere except here, in his lodgings, and she always wore her thick lace veil. It was almost, he mused, like a confessional. And so he unburdened his soul to a comfortable stranger and felt markedly better after each visit, his thoughts slowly untangling.

With a stiff rustle of black taffeta, Lady Blunt hitched forward in the chair, one hand curled around the silver head of her walking cane, the other still outstretched with its offering. Her breathing was labored, as if the effort of reaching, and even the weight of the purse, was too much for her. "I am a childless widow. How am I to spend my fortune before the Grim Reaper takes me? At my time of life, one can enjoy few vices."

"But surely, madam-"

"All I have are my beloved dog-which you saved from certain death under the wheels of the mail coach-and my man, Edward." She gestured with an impatient flick of her cane toward the tall, spare fellow lurking in the shadowy corner. "Edward, come here at once and tell this prideful whippersnapper to take my money before I am forced to lose my ladylike composure."

Sometimes, when she got that imperious tone in her voice, Rafe was reminded of another woman he once knew; but that thought passed quickly, no more than a dangerous spark that spat from the fire to be crushed and smothered beneath his boot.

In response to her command, the servant ambled forward with a slanting, bemused glance at his mistress. "You would not like the lady in a temper, sir," he muttered dourly. Rafe tried not to smile, never sure whether stern-faced Edward meant to be amusing or not.

"Think of it as an endowment," she added. "Or...a prize purse, if you will."

He looked down at his scarred knuckles. When the old lady came to his lodgings, he made an effort to hide his hands, but he knew she'd seen. She'd alluded to the boxing fights in which he participated for money, although how she'd found out about them he had no idea.

She sat before him in her black widow's weeds, a figure frail in appearance-deceptively so, as he now knew-her face almost completely obscured by that veil. He saw she wore spectacles, for when she moved her head, candlelight caught on the round glass lenses. Her face, or what he could see of it through the swirls of lace, was very white, in severe contrast to the black costume. Her slate-gray hair was piled atop her head in a style from the previous century, with a few be-ribboned tails straggling over one shoulder.

"And you should know, young sir, that I have purchased your fighting contract. You belong now to me."

Startled, he looked from her to Edward and back again. "Why would...what would a lady want with a boxer?"

Rafe fought for his landlord-a sly, greedy manipulator named Catchpole-to pay off a friend's rent debt. He couldn't imagine Catchpole ever giving up his contract to another. If it was true, Lady Blunt had paid a high price. Rafe eyed her warily. What did she want with him?

She must have seen his expression. Abruptly she laughed. "I don't want you to fight for me or perform any other...service. Since you belong to me now, you'll do as I say. Go home to the country and make peace with your father. Heal the rift. Facing your problems is the answer. Running away from them is not."

For a long moment he wrestled with his pride.

Home. For many years he'd considered himself a wayfarer, a boy never fully belonging anywhere. But there was one place he thought of as home-a little village where he'd lived for a while with his uncle and aunt. Sydney Dovedale, a pastoral haven in the Norfolk countryside, two days' travel from London. When he closed his eyes he saw the patchwork of plowed fields as he remembered them. He heard again the soft chorus of wood pigeons and could almost smell the fresh, sweet air-so different from that of London.

"I have my own earnings, madam. Enough to get me home."

"But you will take this purse for the journey," she croaked, "and pour me another glass of that wine, you ninny."

So he finally accepted the purse. "I swear I'll pay it back with interest."

"As you see fit," she said. "We can make some arrangement later, when you are settled."

But he had another problem of which Lady Blunt was unaware. Rafe had taken on the responsibility of caring for a small family-the wife and children of his debt-ridden friend, Pyke, who currently resided in the Fleet Prison. He couldn't leave Pyke's family alone and unprotected in London, but he told none of this to the old lady. Already he'd burdened her with his problems. Why burden her with those of the luckless Pyke too?

She now used the tip of her walking cane to straighten his hearth rug and artfully flip a stray coal back over the grate. Those spectacles must give her damn good aim, he mused.

"It's time you settled down, Hartley. Marry that poor girl you mentioned-Molly, is it not? You've kept her waiting long enough. A handsome, healthy specimen should not live alone. Your cockerel goes to waste, I'm sure, on tawdry women of lapsed virtue. Think of my money as a wedding gift. Go home, invest your earnings in a bank, and marry that girl, Molly. She'll put you to better use."

Cheerful at the thought of going home, he decided to tease her. "Unless you'd accept me instead, madam." He gave her a wink. "I know I'd do you the world of good."

She chuckled at his bawdy humor. Lifting her cane, she tapped it smartly on his knee. "Knave! If I were a hundred years younger, I might be tempted to take you in hand."

"I should like to have known you when you were young, Lady Blunt. I suspect you were quite something to know."

For a moment he thought he'd spoken amiss, overstepped a boundary. Her demeanor stiffened. Those small gloved fingers spread, flexed, and tightened around the head of her cane. "Alas...we were born too far apart." An unusually pensive pause followed, interrupted by another coal falling in the hob grate. Then she added sternly, "'Twas doubtless for the best, scoundrel."

Rafe bounced up to fetch the wine jug. It was only cheap wine, but she didn't seem to mind. She always said it was not the drink that mattered but the company with which one shared it.

Behind him he heard Edward intone somberly, "One must not get carried away. Remember, ma'am, you are expected elsewhere."

Thus, his guest reluctantly dismissed the idea of more wine. As she rose from her chair, Rafe attempted to help her but was quickly shouldered aside by her manservant, who shielded the old lady's body from Rafe as if one touch of his might make her shatter.

"I must take my leave of you, young man. I have an appointment with my mantuamaker."

Rafe bowed. "Good evening, your ladyship. And thank you."

She replied as she did at the end of every visit, "Behave yourself."

He rushed around them to open the door and watched as Edward carefully steered his slow-moving mistress out into the shabby hall. Usually there would be nothing more said, but today she hobbled around to face him again-moving so suddenly and unexpectedly that she swiped poor Edward on the leg with her cane. In a grand gesture, she held out her gloved hand.

It took a moment for Rafe to understand what she expected. Then he grasped her fragile fingers, bowed over them, and planted a quick peck to the soft leather.

She was an eccentric old dear-a fact proven not only by her desire to give money to a stranger and her penchant for ribald conversation, but by the hint of a frivolous, blood-red petticoat visible under the hem of her black gown.


"That went exceedingly well, did it not?" She stepped up into the hired fly, and Edward followed, dropping heavily onto the seat beside her.

"Yes, my lady. Although I think the hand-kiss went a little beyond." He rubbed his shin where she'd hit him with her cane.

"Really? It felt right in that moment. There was a spark... I fear I could not help myself, which is most unusual for me." Tugging her veil aside with impatient fingers, she reached up to scratch under her powdered wig and knocked it slightly askew. "I believe there are fleas in his lodgings, Edward."

"I should not be surprised." He passed her a large linen handkerchief and gingerly retrieved the cane from her lap. "I'll just relieve you of this, my lady, before any further damage-"

"The sooner he puts his stubborn pride aside and goes home to his father, the better." With a few wipes of the cloth, she removed the thick white paste from her cheeks. "He needs a good kick in the breeches."

"Like most young men these days."

She sighed, shaking her head. "I knew Rafe was not cut out for the law. He only ever wanted to work the land, but I suppose he put that aside and tried for his father's approval." Now the fool boy, having quit his studies and his post as a clerk in a barrister's office, stayed in London rather than face another bitter quarrel with his father. He'd turned to boxing, but under no circumstances could she let him continue fighting with his fists for a living. What if he scarred that fine face? Nor would she sit by and let him fall in with more unsavory company, develop worse habits, and form a taste for cheap wine. London was a treacherous pit for a generous-hearted but aimless young man with good looks and too much earthy charm for his own good. It was time he settled down.

But as they trotted along the darkened streets, her mood lifted, and she began to hum softly. At least she'd seen Rafe again, he was in good health and spirits, she had persuaded him to go home, and he still had not the slightest suspicion about her identity.

"I should like to have met you when you were young. I suspect you were quite something."

Little did he know he shared his wine and his hearth with a ghost from his past.

"Oh, and, my lady," said Edward, "I think scarlet ruffles might not have been the most appropriate of choices."

She glanced down at the hem of her petticoat, now clearly visible under the black taffeta as she swung her feet. "Well, of course I had to wear some color," she exclaimed. "For pity's sake, Edward Hobbs, you are my solicitor. Reserve your advice for matters of the law, not fashion."

He gave her one of his bleakly despairing looks, as if a crimson petticoat might indeed be a crime of some sort, and then adjusted the collar of his coat against the brisk chill that whipped through the open window.

"One can hardly expect you to understand, because you're a man. Naturally, you have no sense of style."

"I'm sure you are right, my lady, as always."

Smiling to herself, humming her jolly tune, she looked out on her side of the street and considered Mr. Rafael Hartley with more warmth than he deserved. Almost from the very first time they met, she knew it would be her duty to save that man. Not that he was ever grateful. The Brat he used to call her when he was considerably smaller than he was now.

Nevertheless, she'd vowed to straighten out his life, even if it killed her. Which it probably would.

And never knowing what she'd done for him, he would probably dance upon her grave.

Well, in her case, it would be the family vault, of course, but dancing upon a family vault would require the foresight to bring a ladder for climbing up, and Rafe never planned ahead. It would also demand a high level of balance and coordination-neither of which Rafe Hartley possessed when dancing. Curiously, he had both when swinging his fists in a boxing match, so she'd heard. But she knew, firsthand, that his dancing left much to be desired.

Far safer to think of him dancing on a grave.

"Which reminds me," she announced, "I ought to write out specific instructions for my burial. I have just the outfit in mind, and if I left such things to you and my brother, who knows what atrocity my corpse would be dressed in."

The solicitor turned his head to inspect her in some bemusement. "Fortunately, we have time enough to worry."

"Always plan ahead, Edward. Be prepared for any eventuality."

"In addition to the fact that you are two and twenty, your health is of the rude variety."

"But this fly could overturn and kill us both." She shook her head. "Our lives snuffed out as speedily as a candle flame."

"A cheering thought, my lady."

"And who will manage things when I am gone?"

He had no response to that, and she had not meant for there to be any. It was purely a rhetorical question. No one managed things so well as Lady Mercy Danforthe. Everyone knew it and, should they ever forget, she was quick to remind them.

"It looks like snow," she observed grimly. "I do hope, if the fly is overturned, we are killed outright. Otherwise we could be buried alive under a snowdrift and die slowly, in dreadful agony, frozen to our very bones."

"Might I observe, my lady, as I have before, that you possess a tendency to find one small thought and let it expand with many others until it no longer resembles any form of reality? Fact is too often replaced with fiction."

"And your point, Edward?"

"I rather fear that is just what you have done again," he observed tranquilly. "In fact, there are seldom snowdrifts in London, my lady."

"Even worse! The horse and driver will be unaccustomed to the circumstance should we encounter one."

Edward burrowed deeper into his collar, like a turtle. "If your brother ever finds out about this mission of yours and that you have acquired possession of a six-foot prizefighter, we shan't have to worry about a slow, painful death," he muttered. "I believe it will come swiftly for both of us."

"Six foot four and fourteen stone."

She did not have to see Edward's eyebrows to know they arched upward, like two caterpillars taking shelter under the brim of his hat. "I stand corrected, my lady. Again."

"Still," she added jauntily, returning to her previous thought, "at least if I am to die in the snow tonight, I shall be discovered in my splendid new petticoat." With that pleasing point to mitigate the tragedy of her inevitable demise, she settled back to enjoy the ride.

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The Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Doodlebug4444 More than 1 year ago
Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts With Scandal by Jayne Fresina Book 3 Sydney Dovedale Series 4.5 out of 5 Description Lady Mercy likes her life neat and tidy. She prides herself on being practical - like her engagement to Viscount Grey, whose dark colouring co-ordinates very well with her favourite furnishings. But things start to get messy when her best friend abandons her fiance at the altar, leaving it up to Mercy to help the couple. There's just one problem. The jilted man is Rafe Hartley—Mercy's former husband. Rafe has not forgiven Mercy for deserting him when they were seventeen. Their hasty marriage was declared void by law, but in his eyes the bossy little vixen was still his wife, even if the marriage lasted only a few hours. And Mercy "Silky Drawers" Danforthe still owes him a wedding night. Review This was another absolutely fabo read.  We met Lady Mercy Danforthe is book 2 and let me tell you .. if i could of kicked a boot up an arse it would of been hers.  She was a BRAT.  Entitled, "the world revolves around me", "what do you mean I can't have it?", BRAT BRAT BRAT!  LOL We also met Rafe in book 2 (he is James son by that serving maid in book 1).  At that time, Rafe is also young, comes from the streets, has had to fight for everything he has in life .. he's TOUGH! Flash forward another ten years and all of a sudden these two look a whole lot different. Lady Mercy Danforthe lives in London and is a perfectionist extreme.  She likes it neat and tidy, wrapped up in a pretty bow, all controlled and to her liking (even her chosen fiance the Viscount).  She is precise, feels responsible for others, and certainly not anything like the young girl she use to be.   Mr Rafe Hartley, is a farmer who resides in Sydney Dovedale.  He now knows who is father is and while he embraces that, he is very set in his ways with regards to not allowing his father to help in life.  He is strong and proud, capable and handsome. A few years ago these two decided impulsively to get married.  Just before the marriage was consummated, Mercy's brother barged in an made sure that the wedding was stricken from both their lives.  While Mercy carried on, Rafe always felt robbed of his right as a husband and what he wanted in life ... Mercy.   These two are reunited when Mercy's lady maid and BFF Molly decides to jilt Rafe at the alter because she wishes to live a different life.  Somehow she manages to talk Mercy into breaking the bad news to Rafe and the fireworks start from there.  The minute these two are reunited the banter starts, the sexual tension builds and their lives become ever changed. It seems as the weeks go by, there is one thing or another keeping Mercy in town and Rafe clawing at her skirts.  Mercy finds it harder and harder to bat him away just because he goes against all she has planned for her life.  Bit by bit, her wall starts to crumble until they both find themselves under the pieces and quite liking it there. Mercy impressed me wholeheartedly throughout this book.  Like James, Jayne Fresina found a way for me to love this heroine.  She sincerely cares for people and their welfare and it is evident through many actions she does around this small town.  She is charming yet can be forceful and quite sharp tongued when she wants to be and she comes back at Rafe blow by blow and stands her ground.   Rafe is a doll.  He can be stubborn and a little dim witted at times but he is so lovable.  I think my fave thing within this story was the many names he had for Mercy within their banter.  Let me give you a taste .... Mercy Fancy-Breeches, Lady Bossy-Breeches, Clever-Drawers, Lady Know-All, Frosty-Bottom, and Dainty-Breeches (think he has something of a liking to her underwear?? TEEHEE)  Seriously reading all those made me chuckle! I loved the build up of this story and to see how they turned out left me very satisfied.  I enjoyed once again the secondary characters and the more I get into this series, the more investing I am in this town.  I loved checking in with Sophie and Kane, James and Ellie and seeing how their lives together have developed.   So, although the first book was just okay for me, the second and third really came to play!  I have added this series to a "must read" when the next one comes out.  I am really hoping that Molly and Mercy's brother are paired together as they have the proper makings for a good read.  If you are really into historical romance and like that added dash of humour than this is certainly for you.  You do have to read the books in succession or I am afraid you just may miss out on too much information.  I don't think I could of enjoyed them as much without reading them in order! HAPPY READING!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent job
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book turned out to be a disappointment. it is not as good as it sounds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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2_PMVH More than 1 year ago
This book was really hilarious and has the quirky characters. Lady Mercy was a pain the butt at 10 but she mellowed some in her old age. She thinks everything and everyone should be organized, clean, neat and always do as she says. Mercy does do for others in need but she doesn't go about nicely. She has a big heart in her organized and careful world. Rafe is a illegitimate son and doesn't want anything from is rich dad. He says, "if can fill out my pants then I can fill its pockets!" He has grown up between 2 world and he likes working with his hands. Rafe got married in Gretna Green and is bride was Lady Mercy at the age of 17. Her brother, the earl, had it annulled. Now Rafe is going to the altar to marry Miss Robbins, but she flees and makes Mercy tell him. He blames her and she blames him for messed up her orderly life. Rafe has never got over her leaving him on their wedding night. Mercy is engaged to a man who never interrupts when she talks so he is a perfect husband in her mind. This story is like watching two jungle cats circling each other looking for the weak spot to go in for the kill. Rafe tempts and Mercy fights it. I love all the names they call one another. This is the second book I have read by Jayne Fresina and I must say her books keep getting better. I give this book 4 fingers up and 7 toes.
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MelodyMay More than 1 year ago
I finished Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal by Jayne Fresina. Let me just say, I did enjoyed the book, but I had a hard time getting into the story. So, through the book I was trying to put my finger on why? Then it dawned on me, I didn't really like Lady Mercy. Now you are probably wondering, why? Let me explain: As I said, I didn't really care for Lady Mercy, well, it all stems from The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne. This is where I first encounter Lady Mercy, granted she was an obnoxious twelve year with an opinion about everything. Granted that doesn't change very much in ten years, she's still opinionated about everything and believes she knows what's best for everyone. She's believes she knows what's best for Rafe Hartley.  So, Rafe and Mercy have an animosity towards each other which borders on something I'm not sure. The crazy thing is their relationship kind of models Rafe's father James Hartley, and his step-mother Ellie. Which I didn't notice until towards the end of the story. So, if you have read The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne, you will notice some similarities. I guess chasing after obstinate women must run in the family.  Overall, it's a whimsical read. Basically, light and fun and is just pure entertaining. Yes, Rafe and Mercy are older and still fight like cats and dogs, but they it's a fun read. So, if you are looking for something light, I would suggest Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal. Plus, it has the feel of the other stories, which is important in a series. I'm just curious about what's going to happen with her Lady Mercy's brother. Now that should be interesting. Copy provided by Sourcebooks via NetGalley
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay, where should I start? What is there to say about Lady Mercy Danforthe and Rafe Hartley? I just got to say this was the first book I’ve read from Ms. Jayne Fresina, even though I have her Sydney Doverdale #2 book The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne on my TBR shelf for 5 months now (I know~ FIVE MONTHS!!!). I for some reason, haven’t gotten to it and jumped to the 3rd book instead. Which I thought was Amazing~ Because now I can go back to book 2 and read up on one of my favorite couple, who plays a great role in this fabulous little book ;) Lady Mercy Danforthe is a matchmaker who thinks she can help with anyone and everyone who asks of her or not. She always has a plan and they better go her way or she’ll have to make it go her way. She lives on the finer side of life and if anything goes amiss or gets out of place she’ll fix it; even if it’s a little speck of dirt or crack in the wall, she will get it fixed and be done with. She has a hot mouth for opinion and thought men useless. Although she’s engaged to a Viscount, she’ll do things her way and things in order- I mean, she did get her Viscount to proposed to her- so she’ll manage. There is only one thing that stands in her way unfortunately, Rafe Hartley, her ex-husband and her one and only mistake! But not for long, she’s determined to find him a bride~ and banish him from her life forever! Rafe, an illegitimate son, wants nothing but to be a farmer even if his father wants nothing of it but for him to be the gentleman he was wanted to be and have a posting job at the offices in London. A wild child and rogue seen by many, he was still much loved and liked, and acknowledged, as the son of a well admire aristocratic of the town. When news came calling, in the form of the Little Miss Danforthe Brat, to tell him he was jilted at the alter, TWICE now, he meant to have his way once and for all no matter what. Someone needs to teach little Miss Know It All to keep her nose out of people’s business. How better to do that then to mess with her little head and get him the wedding night he deserves, she does owe him that first of all for running out on him at his first wedding. I absolutely love this book!! I was drawn right into it from the first line. “I have only one use for an overly proud cock.” I mean hello~ if that didn’t catch you attention then what does!? I was already giggling grinning because, what can come after that verse. :D It was highly enjoyable. I loved both the characters and they both really, and I mean really, have a strong personality and character. Although the little info I gave might give you a different picture of who they are, I think I’m just not good at introducing them. But because of their strong personalities and opinions, they always argue :( But they’re amazing arguments and I love it when they argue and bicker! :D All of their sexual tension and vibes are there and ready to take aim and throw and punch and mingle and tangle and blahhlalalala. It’s just AWESOME! XD Oh and that great sexy excerpt I gave not to long ago fit right in ;D But both of these characters have a lot of flaws and had to get through and overcome a lot to get to their HEA. It was an amazing experience and I do not know what to say next…. They each had a past that haunted them in some form and it was nice to see how that effected who they were and how their relationship clashed. But it was also great to see them break that barrier and to come to understand and learn from each other to bring their relationship to a HEA~! I was really surprise to see that our hero, Rafe, was the first to see that he would do anything to get his love even if she didn’t see it. His love was pure and true even though she broke him down, many a times, and degrade him because of his class, he still tried to get it in her little miss perfect mind that they can break that barrier. I just couldn’t help but adore him~ even when he got frustrated I couldn’t be angry at him for long. Miss Mercy on the other hand I just couldn’t help but frustrated and have mixed feelings for her. I love that she tried to help Rafe back on his feet after the cancelled wedding but can’t help but always hate it when she brings up his “commonness“. Sure it really picks a punch during an argument but man, that really stings to the ears of someone that loves you. I also love that she tried to stay out of scandal for her Viscount’s sake and to her reputation but that is never easy. She also manages to act before she thinks, and wow, sometimes I just think her naive, which I liked when she brought that up upon herself but still, through all her secret rendezvous with Rafe she not thought once of her Viscount! That just gave me pause and troubled me. Poor Viscount. But they had to get their HEA you know and everything worked out after all. But it’s all good, no worries, I’m happy now, I just needed to get that off my chest. So, I will tell you, I smiled, laughed, giggled, got mad and angry all along with these two characters throughout the book and it was a great~ pleasure. The last scene/pages of the book got me shivering with excitement and giggling like a lunatic that I had to read it over just to experience and laugh all over again before I was truly finish with the book. Ms. Fresina did a fabulous job setting up the story and the characters that I couldn’t help but want to see more of them. They were a witty bomb shell of sexual tension that needed to get under the covers and thrash about each other like wonton wild beings. I highly enjoyed it! This is one fabulous read, for sure. XD This ARC was kindly provided by SourceBook Casablanca